The Best Betfair Trading Strategies

Written by: Alex Windsor
Fact checked by Brian Webb  
Updated: July 10, 2024

Betfair reshaped the sports betting industry when it launched in 2000, allowing you to “exchange” lay and back bets similarly to how traders exchange goods and currencies. The world’s first sports odds marketplace also drastically softens the need for margins since users are effectively betting against each other and bookies aren’t involved in the slightest.

Even though Betfair offers numerous advantages compared to traditional bookmakers, you can’t just blindly rush into buying or selling odds without a proper strategy.

We at BettingTools.com have compiled a list of the best Betfair trading strategies so that you can confidently begin your bet trading journey with multiple options at your disposal.

Scalping

Scalping is a simple Betfair trading strategy that rewards discipline and knowledge of your chosen sports category. It revolves around buying numerous small bets and selling them minutes later when their prices become more favourable.

While inexperienced bettors may say that you’ll need luck more than anything to successfully execute scalping strategies, you’ll need to have a solid “trigger discipline” to not buy/sell more than you can chew as unexpected events can quickly pile up losses on your end.

Football is one of the most popular types of sports most scalpers go with while horse racing is almost equally good but follows a bit different “rules”. In terms of similarities, both football and horse race events play out in the dozens daily, and both markets are highly liquid so you won’t have to worry about not getting your offers matched quickly.

The key difference is that football is a team sport whereas horse racing is an individual sport. In football, you’ll need to follow each player’s performance and be well-versed in your preferred team’s match history whereas in horse racing, you’ll need to learn everything you can about the racer and their horse.

Example of the Scalping Strategy on Betfair

Let’s illustrate scalping in football with an example. Let’s say you’ve been following football teams A, B, and C since you were a child and know their entire rosters, scores in each game, and their coaches.

A scalping strategy would revolve around buying multiple back bets pre-game when you’re certain they’ll win, or lay bets when you’re certain they’ll lose; after checking the movement of odds you’ve noticed that back bets for teams A and B rose while back bets for team C declined. Sell profitable odds and wait a few more minutes to see if bets on team C have stabilized; if not, cut your losses and you’ll still make a profit.

Hedging

Hedging

Hedging is a form of insuring your bet by betting on the opposite outcome to ensure you’ll make money regardless of the outcome. It’s an emulation of the same-named trading strategy where you’d invest in one asset to mitigate losses incurred by price movements of another asset. In sports trading, you’re both backing and laying a bet on the same outcome to achieve the same results.

For hedging strategies to work on Betfair, you’ll need to pinpoint optimal stakes for your back and lay options. To save you the trouble of doing this math on foot, you can use our free hedging calculator. Due to its unique nature, hedging is suitable for all types of sports.

How to use Hedging on Betfair

Let me illustrate how hedging works. Let’s assume that you’re paying $5 as a back price, placing a $10 back stake, and laying $3 with a 2% commission. You’ll need to lay at least $16 and stake a total of $43 to guarantee a profit of $6.

This is the safest Betfair trading strategy and an ideal choice for punters with a decent bankroll. You’re never reaping the full value of your bets since you’re willingly forfeiting one outcome to guarantee the success of the other.

If you have never bet with betfair (or at an exchange before), you can read our handy guide on how to bet at betfair for some tips and how to get started.

Swing Trading

Often considered the diametrical opposite of scalping, swing trading is all about being picky about your bets and as patient as possible.

Both strategies are similar in that you’ll need to know your sports markets well, but to efficiently deploy a swing trading strategy, you will need to accurately predict which odds have the highest potential to drastically “swing” in your favour.

Sports with fairly volatile pre-match odds are the best for swing trading, such as football or rugby. Ideally, you should avoid selections where favourites are almost guaranteed to win, as their odds will likely float around the same margin until the end.

Example of Swing Trading on Betfair

Let’s say you know everything about football teams A and B, both of which are set to participate in an upcoming tournament. To efficiently deploy a swing-trading strategy, you should pick your battles carefully. Alternate between backing and laying bets on your teams when they’re playing against closely matched adversaries. You can even hedge your bets to stay on the safe side.

The point is to postpone selling your options until you’re certain that the odds can’t become more favourable, whether due to unexpected weather, freak accidents on the field, or other handicaps.

Similarly to scalping, ideal sports for swing trading are football and horse racing. However, it’s more important than ever to be as knowledgeable of your chosen sport and quick enough to locate cheap, lucrative odds as soon as they appear on Betfair.

Dutching

Dutching

Dutching can be described as an advanced form of hedging. Instead of simply securing one outcome by both backing and laying it, why not include multiple selections to cover other fields and markets?

What separates this strategy from similar alternatives is how flexibly it can be deployed based on current circumstances. For example, you can make your own “To Reach Top 5” slip by backing the five favourites in an upcoming horse race.

The worst enemy of effective Dutching strategies is a poor understanding of the chosen sports category. You can haphazardly back half a dozen selections and ultimately secure a profit, but you’d waste value in the process. The more certain you are that your selections will play out as you expect, the fewer selections you’ll need to “insure”.

Conversely, the most lucrative odds will often appear when the competition is the stiffest, so it’s up to you to decide how many, if any, selections you’ll cover.

How to Apply Dutching on Betfair

Football, horse racing, tennis, and hockey are good sports for Betfair Dutching strategies. In terms of ideal sports markets, you don’t need to be laser-focused on money lines. If you don’t mind a little extra risk, you can apply this strategy to futures of big tournaments where the odds will be considerably larger than in average 1v1 matches.

Effective Dutching strategies require calculated risk management, smart decisions, and in-depth knowledge of your chosen sport. They aren’t as “safe” as classic hedging, but they open up additional opportunities.

Cross-Market Trading

Cross-market trading is arguably one of the most intricate Betfair strategies that can lead to the highest profits. It expands on typical Hedging and Dutching by having one clear-cut winner and one or multiple correlated opposites as insurance.

Typically, you’ll want to pinpoint sports with as many betting markets – futures, props, specials, anything that is directly correlated to your primary selections.

Normally, you’d hedge a winning back with an opposing lay wager once you calculate your optimal stake. In cross-market trading, you may choose the same winner for your back wager, but you’ll want to find other markets for your lay bets.

Example of Cross-Market Trading

For example, let’s assume you’re backing a hockey Team A to win the final match in their division. A solid cross-market strategy would revolve around placing an insurance futures bet on Team B to win.

Cross-market trading can also go beyond winners and losers. For example, you can bet on Player A in a tennis match to win the game while wagering on Player B to win more sets, which effectively dubs him the “alternate winner”. The point here is that you’ll have not only more options but also more odds to play with.

I look at cross-market trading as an iceberg with hedging at its tip and Dutching at its middlepoint. At the base of this iceberg lies a plethora of other options that are unique to each sports category and match.

Conclusion

Experienced punters rarely rely on a single Betfair trading strategy. They usually mesh multiple approaches together to adapt to whichever odds and circumstances they are looking at, but they do so with a clear-cut goal in mind.

As a Betfair trader, the first skill you should master is flexibility. Some strategies will work wonders to help you meet your betting goals while others may be too stressful or time-consuming.

Establish your bankroll, experiment with different strategies until you find the ones that feel comfortable, and remember to keep track of your bets to analyze the performance and efficiency of your strategies.

Alex, a ten-year iGaming industry veteran and Managing Editor at BettingTools specializes in sports betting and betting tools. He also provides insightful reviews, ensures the accuracy of all offers, and maintains content quality helping you make informed choices. Combining professional expertise with a passion for football and soccer, Alex ensures we offer you a reliable resource, focusing on betting tools to assist with odds, accas, and other betting strategies.